Cristiano Ronaldo becomes football’s first billionaire ahead of Messi


Juventus forward, Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first billionaire footballer, beating Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to the achievement.

The 35-year old has become only the third sports star to reach the milestone, joining Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather Jr, according to Forbes.

Lionel Messi is expected to reach the landmark next year.

Ronald is the first team-sport athlete to accomplish the feat.

According to Forbes’ Christina Settimi, Ronaldo is now No. 4 on the list of highest-paid celebrities—one spot above rival Lionel Messi. Kylie Jenner, Kanye West and Roger Federer rank one through three, respectively.

Ronaldo reportedly earned $105 million over the last year while Messi earned $104 million. 

Cristiano Ronaldo is ranked 2nd behind Roger Federer

Per Forbes, more than half of Ronaldo’s billion has come from club contracts, with the striker earning $650 million through professional soccer alone, a number the outlet expects to reach $765 million when his current contract expired in June 2022:  

“Ronaldo’s 2020 earnings include a salary of $60 million, slightly less than last year because of a 30% pay cut he agreed to take this April as a result of the pandemic. Messi, who earned $104 million in the past year after taking a 70% pay cut while the coronavirus sidelined play, is poised to surpass $1 billion in all-time earnings as soon as next year, before his current Barça contract ends.”

Sporting Intelligence’s Nick Harris, whose Global Sports Salaries Survey ranks teams worldwide based on total salary expense, told Settimi it’s no surprise to see Ronaldo atop the rankings. 

“Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all time, in the world’s most popular sport, in an era when football has never been so rich,” Harris said. “He’s box office.”

Adding to his avenues of income, Ronaldo also has a lifetime deal with Nike that pays him $20 million annually. He joins Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only other athletes to ink such a deal with the company. 

Forbes found that endorsements alone only make up $45 million of Ronaldo’s annual income at this point. 


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